Summary: To be an effective leader, you must avoid the pitfalls of leadership, which are the honor and dishonor of men.
Several years ago, a pastor in Valparaiso, Indiana, started visiting a man in the local nursing home. The man was a VIP, one who had been instrumental in starting the major industry in town. When he died, his family asked the pastor to do the funeral service. He was nervous, because he knew his church would be packed with dignitaries.
But the service went well, and on their way to the cemetery, he began turning in his Bible to the passage he was going to read at the graveside. While he was turning to 1 Corinthians 15, the funeral director asked him a question. The pastor could tell he was impressed with the funeral message. In fact, the funeral director asked several questions, and the pastor answered each one.
The pastor was starting to feel pretty good about himself. After all, the funeral director had listened to hundreds of funeral services, and he singled out his as one of the best.
With that on the pastor’s mind, he stood at the head of the casket with the family and friends of the deceased in front of him. He asked them to listen to the words of Scripture. Then he read with a sense of dignity 1 Corinthians 5:1 – “It is reported commonly that there are fornicators among you!” (Michael Hartwig of Valparaiso, Indiana, Leadership, Vol.19, No.3)
Pride goes before a fall, every single time! It is one of the pitfalls of leadership – whether it is in the church, the family, or the community. You do an adequate job. People tell you, “You’re the greatest.” & If you are not careful, you start believing that stuff. A lot of leaders fall, because they start believing their own press reports. & If you are in leadership, that’s one of the things you have to watch out for. You have to…
WATCH OUT FOR THE HONOR OF MEN.
Be careful of people's praise. Beware lest their admiration leads to pride.
1 Timothy 3:6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. (NIV)
Here, it is very clear: leadership is not for novices. It’s not for those who are immature in the faith. Leadership, and especially leadership in the church, has to be reserved for those who have grown in their faith.
When I was planting churches, I made it a point to join a service club in the community where we were as a way to get to connect with people and serve them. Most of those service clubs had an unwritten rule like the Kiwanis Club I joined in central Kansas. We joked about it all the time in the club. It goes like this: Join Kiwanis this year, become president next year. You see, there are a lot of busy people in those clubs. So when somebody new shows up, the members of the club are anxious to put the new guy in a position of responsibility. Why? Because nobody else has the time to do it.
Sad to say, the church is often run the same way. Church people are so busy (or so tired or both), that when somebody new shows up he or she is quickly drafted to fill a leadership position.
That’s not good, because spiritual maturity takes time. Full-grown oaks are not produced in three years; neither are good quality leaders. Spiritual maturity takes time, and spiritual maturity takes improvement over time.
There was a woman who had been a school teacher for 25 years. When she heard about a job that would mean a promotion, she applied for the position. However, someone who had been teaching for only one year was hired instead. She went to the principal and asked why. The principal responded, “I'm sorry, but you haven't had 25 years of experience as you claim; you've had only one year's experience 25 times.” During that whole time the teacher had not improved. (Bible Illustrator #995-996; 10/1989.8)
There are some people, who have been Christians for 25 years, but during that whole time they have never really improved; they have never really applied the Bible to their own lives.
Ethel Barrett in her book It Only Hurts When I Laugh, talks about D.L. Moody when he first became a Christian. At that time he developed such a hunger for God's Word, spent so much time reading it, and was so quick to obey it that he became a “menace” to some of the believers. His rapid spiritual growth was an embarrassment to certain people who, though they had been saved for years, never grew up in Christ.